How valuable are newspaper readers online and in print? We thought: why not look at the prices.

We took a look at the advertised rates for online and print ads across seven UK national newspapers using their own freely available rate cards – with a little help from paidContent’s Robert Andrews’ piece on online CPMs to fill in the gaps, and compared them to readership stats provided by ABC (all unique monthly browers, August 2012) or by publishers themselves.

Agencies have their own varied opinions and will pay based on which client and publisher they are working with – and those agencies rarely pay the advertised full rate for an ad. But rate cards do give us some idea of what papers think their audience is worth. 

There’s a great deal of variation between what each paper thinks an individual reader is worth – here’s the breakdown:

The Sun (print rate card here)

In print: The UK’s best-selling print publication has a pretty high asking price for a full page colour print ad, just under £51,000. Only the FT and the Telegraph ask for more. The Sun’s £214 per column centimetre is the joint most expensive we’ve seen. However, when you take into account the paper’s more than 2.5 million daily readers, it is actually asking for the lowest cost per user reached.

Online: Here it’s a slightly different story. The Sun’s cost-per-thousand (CPM) asking price for display ads is just £12. Only the Mirror asks for less. 

The Telegraph (print rate card)

In print: The Telegraph asks for £59,000 for a full page colour ad – more than any other newspaper we looked at – and like The Sun charges £214 per column centimetre for smaller ads. Yet with a much print smaller print readership of 570,00 – around one fifth of The Sun’s – it values each individual reader far more highly. In fact, the Telegraph’s advertised rates work out at slightly more than 10p per user reached with a full page colour ad.

Online: Again it is a very different story online. The Telegraph charges some of the lowest rates for online ads: £8 CPM for a banner ad and £12 for an MPU. It asks for less than any other newspaper except the Mirror for access to its readers online. There is one caveat however: The Telegraph told paidContent in February that most of its online ads are for specialist sections for which it charges between £20 and £24 CPM. That still leaves the Telegraph’s asking prices as some of the lowest in the market. 

The Times (print rate card)

In print: In terms of print advertising, The Times sits pretty much in the middle on ad pricing, asking £27,195 for a full page colour ad and £123 per column centimetre. With just shy of 400,000 readers for the paper version, the Times is valuing its adverts at 6.8p per reader, more than the Mirror but less than the Guardian

Online: In digital it’s a similar story, with The Times asking £30 CPM for banner and MPU. Of course The Times has a much reduced online readership since putting up a paywall, but execs have always argued the selection of users who cough up for a monthly subscription are worth more to advertisers. According to the rates it asks for, those paying subscribers aren’t worth as much as The Guardian or the the Independent to marketers. 

The Guardian (print rate card and online rate card)

Print: The Guardian’s rate cards suggests it values its ads at the very top end in both print and online. In print it asks for just £18,000 for a full page ad. But with an offline readership of just 212,000 that works out at almost 8.5p to get your ad into a reader’s paper. 

Online: The Guardian is asking for a whopping £55 CPM for an MPU, and a pricey £30 for a banner. Only the FT asks for more. With the second highest online readership of 3.8 million, that should be raking in a lot of cash. Guardian News and Media’s finances suggest they either have a lot of unfilled inventory, or are prepared to drop their asking price a long way. 

The Financial Times (print and online rate card)

In print: It will surprise no one the FT values access to its audience more highly than anyone else in print and online, being a specialist business title. But how much it values them at is a little greedy: the FT asks for £58,600 for a full page ad, second only to the Telegraph. When you take into account its comparatively small print circulation of just under 300,000, that works out at more than 19p per reader, almost double what anyone else is asking (except the Indy).

Online: The FT is almost as far out ahead of the rest as in print, though that may in part be down to the targeting the paper employs online. The FT segments its online audience into tiers. An MPU aimed at the lowest tier is advertised at impressive £86 CPM, and the top tier is advertised at an almost epic £95. To put that in perspective, that means the advertised price for an MPU targeting a top tier FT reader is only a little less than the advertised price per user of a full page ad in the Telegraph. 

The Daily Mail (print rate card and online rate card)

In print: The Daily Mail advertises a full-page colour ad at £45,612, slap bang in the middle of the range of pricing across national newspapers. With the second biggest readership, the advertised rate for putting a full-page colour ad in front of a Daily Mail user works out at just over 2.3p.

Online: The Mail has the largest online audience in the UK (and the world, arguably) coupled with surprisingly high online ad rates. An MPU is listed at £25 CPM and a banner ad at £20 CPM. If the Mail is getting anything close to those rates with such a large audience, it isn’t that inconcievable for them to say their online operation is profitable – though Patrick has his doubts.

The Independent (print and online rate card)

In print: The Indy has by far the lowest readership of any of the national papers in part due to the popularity of the snappy, snackable i newspaper which reuses its content. Its ad rates are some of the cheapest but the highest on a per user basis: it’s £13,050 for a full page ad and just £64 per column centimetre – far lower than any other paper. However, that works out at over 14p per user – second only to the FT in print. 

Online: That confidence in the value of Indy readers (or its desperation for cash) is also reflected in its online pricing, which at £45 for an MPU and £22 for a banner, near the top end for national newspapers. 


The Daily Mirror (print rate card and online rate card)

In print: £36,800 will buy you a full colour page and £142 per column inch in the Mirror. That’s an average of 3.3p to reach a Mirror reader, putting it in third place behind the Sun and the Mail – just as it’s in third place in the circulation tables at 1.08 million.

Online: In digital however, the Mirror is bargain basement. With MPUs priced at £10 CPM and banners at £8 CPM, it’s unlikely its online readership of just under 840,000 is bringing in much revenue.


Different approaches

Looking at rate cards also provides another interesting comparison which shows very different approaches to online ads. This is the Guardian’s rate card for online ads: 

Guardian online rate card


And this is the Daily Mail’s

MailOnline rate card